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tekkamansoul

Yet another "First Campaign" thread (or, "Why I Suck At Descent")

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So, unlike most people, I have encountered a rarity in my first (two-thirds of the) Shadow Rune campaign session with 2 heroes, controlled by 2 players, myself as the overlord.

 

First:

I have something like 17 years of DM experience and I basically do nothing but play games. I have never played Descent before, but I have played D&D, Hero Quest, and a thousand others like it (or so I thought) and I had read through the rulebook, but not the quest guide and game cards, before play.

One player isn't really a gamer, doesn't really play RPGs, but she ended up being one of the better tacticians. (I think this is a pretty big point to bring up - not only was a relative non-gamer able to pick up and play quickly, but she got really good at it. Of course, she was extremely peeved the one time the heroes lost...)

The other has extensive gaming experience but nothing really tabletop or turn-based related. He didn't do so well, but still...

 

The heroes always won!

 

At first, it was definitely because I was missing something. For instance, I was unaware that the Stunned status effect given by Ashrian's hero ability did not take the *entire* turn to discard - for the first couple quests they dominated me because of this, because he would simply move next to a group of mobs to stun them my turn, or use Shared Pain (as Runemaster), and sometimes kill 3 at once. (Keep in mind the very low-seeming number of monsters I am given as a 2-hero OL.) Also, I wasn't drawing cards for the first few when KOing a hero, but I didn't really do that except for maybe one map anyway. And finally, during the entire time, nobody discarded stamina at the end of their turn - they did it immediately.

 

Pretty sure the stamina thing did me in. The issue came about with the combination of Ashrian/Spiritspeaker and Syndrael/Knight for the two heroes. The classes compliment the heroes, and the heroes compliment each other, especially in regards to defense and healing. (The Knight's Advance and Oath of Honor skills made it hard for me to keep mobs on the map, and it didn't help they kept getting better and better equipment.) 

 

Trap cards are underpowered, as well. Saboteur is not a good way to spec. Traps only have a chance of occurring and are only useful in scenarios that demand you restrict the player's movement, as opposed to Warlord cards, which give you instant, tangible benefit (smashy smash).
 

However, even when all of the rules were being followed correctly, and after we all had experience with the game, I still barely won, and only by utilizing literally every option I had and giving zero quarter. You might think that means that the game is actually extremely well balanced, but the heroes weren't even trying that hard, which is how I triumphed (on the last round). In fact, the scenario is pretty ridiculous:

 

The Dawnblade, part 1. First Act II scenario (so mobs get ++). If any 2-hero party wins this quest, it's kind of a miracle. Then again, I did say I barely won. 

 

We will have to see how the rest of the campaign plays out, but hopefully I'll get to play with other people soon as well, and get a 3- or 4-hero game going. Anyway, just wanted to share my first impressions.

 

 

 

 

Also, my opinion?
Descent rocks, but it's very tactical and very rules-heavy. Learn from my mistakes, and everyone should have a very fun, balanced, and challenging experience ^^

 

Already ordered Heirs of Blood - huge thanks to FFG for releasing base-game expansions in all kinds of ways!

 

 

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In one sense I'm kind of happy to hear this. I just finished my first campaign with 2 heroes and had a complete flip side experience.

However, removing fatigue instantly with a rest sounds like a big no no. This is the difference between healing or pulling off that big attack now, or having to wait 'til next turn.

Can't really comment on the rest as haven't played with Sabateour, but when reading through the cards it did seem that they were quite situational.

But it might be like Omnislash024 mentioned on my thread, that the winners just get keep getting stronger.

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I've been playing Descent a lot. People that are RPG-nerds, People that want to get a glance on RPG-ligh. I am always the OL and I won many games, as I lost many of them. Sometimes I found the game too hard for the OL, the next time the heroes got wiped. On a statistic it might be 50:50. But one factor is constant: The winner keeps getting better.

 

And I think this is the only fault of this great game. And that is the only part where my group at home and me started to house rule. Sometime ago I wrote a short text to the system: here

 

The system works quite well, but there is an alternative: Just look at the next quest and talk to each other. You got the feeling that a quest favors the overlord? - Just put one or two single monsters aside. It seems that the heroes will win very easy? - Get an extra OL-card and put one or two cave spiders in an empty room?

 

The game need not be competitive. Sometimes it is just fun to play with friends and have a nice evening. And why should written rules stand in your way - you know what is best for you friends and yourself. If some letters on a sheet of paper called rules are getting in your way, overrule them.

Edited by Lintu

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Trap cards are a situation tool and they contain perhaps my favorite and ever present 'web trap' (and it costs only 1 xp!) In a 2 player game it is less viable though as hero positioning is less likely to end up with adjacent characters and viable targets may be less likely.

in the base game Syndarel is easily the best warrior (Grisbane, unfortunately, is pretty much the worst warrior in the entire descent range), and the knight is still one of the best warrior classes.

With the stamina rule being done correctly (via resting) the spirit speaker should find itself tapped out quite a lot as most of the effects are quite intensive and movement reigns supreme 90% of the time, although Asharins ability to stun minions will hurt your large monsters ridiculously.

The usual thing you will fine over the forums is that the game balance is best at 4 heroes, once you finish the campaign it is a good idea to get your hero players to take control of 2 heroes if they feel up to it. I cant stress how much better the game is with 4 heroes. :)
 

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I've been playing Descent a lot. People that are RPG-nerds, People that want to get a glance on RPG-ligh. I am always the OL and I won many games, as I lost many of them. Sometimes I found the game too hard for the OL, the next time the heroes got wiped. On a statistic it might be 50:50. But one factor is constant: The winner keeps getting better.

And I think this is the only fault of this great game. And that is the only part where my group at home and me started to house rule. Sometime ago I wrote a short text to the system: here

Thanks, looks interesting, I will check it out.

With the stamina rule being done correctly (via resting) the spirit speaker should find itself tapped out quite a lot as most of the effects are quite intensive and movement reigns supreme 90% of the time, although Asharins ability to stun minions will hurt your large monsters ridiculously.

The usual thing you will fine over the forums is that the game balance is best at 4 heroes, once you finish the campaign it is a good idea to get your hero players to take control of 2 heroes if they feel up to it. I cant stress how much better the game is with 4 heroes. :)

Yeah, imagine if you could rest and then use a powerful skill. Oops. And thanks for the tip, 2 players controlling two heroes does actually sound like more fun.

What do you mind with discarding stamina? to recover stamina heroes must use one action to rest.

the mechanic is fine. The issue was we were discarding stamina immediately. Edited by tekkamansoul

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The OP has said that the heroes were removing stamina at the instant they took the rest action, not at the end of their turn. That's a big advantage for the heroes.

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As I discussed in another thread Balance is a tricky thing in Descent.  So many factors. 

 

Synergies between heroes is huge, as you found.  If I let my heroes take for ever and pick their heroes that have perfect synergies with each other, I don't stand a hope as the OL.

 

What I find I have to do now is give each player a Random 3 and then they can pick from that.  Especially playing with an experienced group.   

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The OP has said that the heroes were removing stamina at the instant they took the rest action, not at the end of their turn. That's a big advantage for the heroes.

 

And here I've been playing it wrong myself. I didn't know it triggered at the end of turn. Sheesh... so why is it an action then? You can literally do it before you attack or move, but somehow the effect is triggered afterward? Doesn't really make alot of sense. 

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Oh yes, I wanted to point out that you are absolutely right about Ashrian and Syndreal. The pair are lethal. I would like to point out that Ashrian's heroic Ability doesn't stun master monsters or lieutenants. Only minions. And that if she is somehow  Koed or moved before a monster's turn begins, they are not stunned. 

Edited by Omnislash024

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@ omni, it is an action to make heroes choose to do it. Otherwise it would have to be something like, regain 1 stamina at the start or end of your turn. Which would be binkers good for some classes.

The reason that it comes at the end of the turn, i suspect, is to stop scenarios like the OP has found :)

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@ omni, it is an action to make heroes choose to do it. Otherwise it would have to be something like, regain 1 stamina at the start or end of your turn. Which would be binkers good for some classes.

The reason that it comes at the end of the turn, i suspect, is to stop scenarios like the OP has found :)

Exactly. Even recovering 1 stamina immediately would be crazy powerful.

 

Oh yes, I wanted to point out that you are absolutely right about Ashrian and Syndreal. The pair are lethal. I would like to point out that Ashrian's heroic Ability doesn't stun master monsters or lieutenants. Only minions. And that if she is somehow  Koed or moved before a monster's turn begins, they are not stunned. 

Yeah, that part we did correctly, unfortunately as a 2-hero OL the majority of my monsters were white. I think I had one red on the board each map usually a goblin archer or barghest, which basically became my one character XD

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Does the Stamina potion recover the stamina immediately? Playing with my 8yr old son, he found 2 stamina potions early on in the Interlude in the first campaign (the last game we've played) and used those on Ashrian during a couple of turns in the game. Use up all stamina, use Stamina potion, then use 3-4 stamina again immediately. Or is that also only recovered at end of turn.

Edited by odgregg

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Does the Stamina potion recover the stamina immediately? Playing with my 8yr old son, he found 2 stamina potions early on in the Interlude in the first campaign (the last game we've played) and used those on Ashrian during a couple of turns in the game. Use up all stamina, use Stamina potion, then use 3-4 stamina again immediately. Or is that also only recovered at end of turn.

That's what the card looks like, so that's how we played it. It doesn't have the "action" arrow, meaning it's free to use(?), but you can only use it once ever, so I guess it's balanced.

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